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Hormonal Therapy For Prostate Cancer Side Effects

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Intermittent Hormonal Therapy For Locally Advanced Prostate Cancer

Reducing Side Effects of Hormone Therapy for Prostate Cancer | Prostate Cancer Staging Guide

Intermittent hormonal therapy is where you stop taking the drugs and after a while start taking them again. This may be an option for locally-advanced prostate cancer. It gives you a break from the side effects of hormonal therapy.

Intermittent hormonal therapy is not suitable for everyone and should only be done on your doctors advice. Your doctor can explain more about this. They usually measure your PSA level using the PSA test every 3 months. If it goes up to a certain level or you get symptoms, your doctor will advise you to start hormonal therapy again.

Male Hormones And Prostate Cancer

Androgens are male sex hormones. Testosterone is one main type of androgen. Most testosterone is made by the testicles. The adrenal glands also produce a small amount.

Androgens cause prostate cancer cells to grow. Hormone therapy for prostate cancer lowers the effect level of androgens in the body. It can do this by:

  • Stopping the testicles from making androgens using surgery or medicines
  • Blocking the action of androgens in the body
  • Stopping the body from making androgens

How Might I Feel During Hormone Therapy

Nearly all men being treated for prostate cancer say that they feel emotionally upset at different times during their hormone therapy. It’s not unusual to feel anxious, depressed, afraid, angry, frustrated, alone, or helpless. Hormone therapy may affect your emotions because it lowers the amount of testosterone in your body.

Some men find it helps to learn about their disease and treatment because it makes them less afraid of their treatment. Find out as much as you want to know. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Your emotional health is as important as your physical health.

Talking with an understanding friend, relative, minister or another patient may be helpful. Your doctors office may be able to give you a list of local prostate cancer support groups. There will be men in the support groups who have had hormone therapy. You may also contact the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 or the National Cancer Institutes Cancer Information Line at 1-800-422-6237 to find out about cancer resources in your local community.

Many people don’t understand prostate cancer or its treatment. They may stay away from you because they’re not sure what to say or how to help. Try to be open when you talk to other people about your illness, treatment, needs, and feelings. People will often be willing to lend their support. If you get tired easily, limit your activities and do only the things that mean the most to you.

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Kinds Of Hormone Therapy

Hormone therapy is a category encompassing a number of treatments. In some conditions or diseases, certain hormones are prescribed in order to increase their levels. This is frequently referred to as hormone replacement therapy . Hormones can be natural or synthetic, meaning produced commercially . Patients who do not have prostate cancer but have symptoms from low testosterone levels, such as fatigue, may be prescribed testosterone as a type of HRT. In certain cases, patients with prostate cancer under control may receive this type of hormone therapy however, because of the risk of activating the cancer, some doctors advise against it. Male children or adults with hypogonadism are prescribed testosterone as HRT.

As mentioned previously, HT in prostate cancer aims to reduce production of the hormone testosterone, rather than increase it, thereby interfering with cancer cells’ ability to use it to grow.

The hormone therapies that have become standard prostate cancer treatments are the ones we discuss in detail in this guide. All decisions regarding these treatments should be carefully made by the patient and doctor together.

Hormone Therapy Side Effects

Prostate Cancer Side Effects

Testosterone is the primary male hormone, and plays an important role in establishing and maintaining typical male characteristics, such as body hair growth, muscle mass, sexual desire, and erectile function, and contributes to a host of other normal physiologic processes in the body. The primary systemic …

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Hormone Therapy With Radiotherapy

You have this if:

  • your cancer hasnt spread to other parts of the body but is at a high risk of coming back, eg the cancer has grown through the covering of your prostate
  • you have a very high prostatic specific antigen level
  • you have a high Gleason score

You might have hormone therapy before, during and after radiotherapy. Doctors usually recommend that you have the treatment for between 3 months and 3 years. How long depends on the risk of your cancer coming back and how many side effects you get.

Advising The Patient About Hormonal Therapy

Finally, Mark Moyad, MD, Director of Complementary and Preventive Medicine, University of Michigan, Department of Urology and Oncology, delivered an excellent discussion of the 10 steps he takes in advising patients about initiation of androgen deprivation therapy. Step 1 is to introduce patients to the common and less common side effects of androgen deprivation therapy . Step 2 is to introduce the patient to moderate, practical, and realistic dietary and lifestyle changes that promote general health during the androgen deprivation therapy. Dr. Moyad stated that recommendations for cardiovascular well-being extrapolate well to provide benefit to patients receiving androgen deprivation therapy. Step 3 is to emphasize that when it comes to over-the-counter supplements and other alternative approaches, less is more. He emphasized that some of these agents might have adverse effects on surgery or radiation therapy and that patients should discontinue these agents at least 1 week before definitive treatment. Step 4 is to remind patients that there might be dyslipidemia associated with androgen deprivation therapy patients should be told, know your lipid levels as well as your PSA.

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How Might Hormone Therapy Make Me Feel

Hormone therapy itself can affect your mood. You may find that you feel more emotional than usual or just different to how you felt before. Some men find that they cry a lot. You may also get mood swings, such as getting tearful and then angry. Just knowing that these feelings are caused by hormone therapy can help.

Everyones different some men are surprised by the side effects and how upsetting they find them. Others have fewer symptoms or are not as worried by them.

Some of the other side effects of hormone therapy are hard to come to terms with. Physical changes, such as putting on weight, or changes to your sex life, might make you feel very different about yourself. Some men say they feel less masculine because of their diagnosis and treatment.

If youre starting hormone therapy very soon after being diagnosed with prostate cancer, you might still feel upset, shocked, frightened or angry about having cancer. These feelings are normal, and it’s okay to feel this way.

Things in your day-to-day life can change because of the hormone therapy. Your relationships with your partner, family and friends might change. Or you might be too tired to do some of the things you used to do.

Some men experience low moods, anxiety or depression. This could be directly caused by the hormone therapy itself, or because you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer. It could also be due to the impact that treatment is having on you and your family.

What can help?

Talking about it

How Is Hormone Therapy Used To Treat Hormone

Hormone Therapy Side Effect Solutions: Exercise, Acupuncture, and More | Mark Moyad, MD | PCRI

Hormone therapy may be used in several ways to treat hormone-sensitive prostate cancer, including:

Early-stage prostate cancer with an intermediate or high risk of recurrence. Men with early-stage prostate cancer that has an intermediate or high risk of recurrence often receive hormone therapy before, during, and/or after radiation therapy, or after prostatectomy . Factors that are used to determine the risk of prostate cancer recurrence include the grade of the tumor , the extent to which the tumor has spread into surrounding tissue, and whether tumor cells are found in nearby lymph nodes during surgery.

The use of hormone therapy before prostatectomy has not been shown to be of benefit and is not a standard treatment. More intensive androgen blockade prior to prostatectomy is being studied in clinical trials.

Relapsed/recurrent prostate cancer. Hormone therapy used alone is the standard treatment for men who have a prostate cancer recurrence as documented by CT, MRI, or bone scan after treatment with radiation therapy or prostatectomy.

Hormone therapy is sometimes recommended for men who have a “biochemical” recurrencea rise in prostate-specific antigen level following primary local treatment with surgery or radiationespecially if the PSA level doubles in fewer than 3 months.

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What Are Male Sex Hormones

Hormones are substances that are made by glands in the body. Hormones circulate in the bloodstream and control the actions of certain cells or organs.

Androgens are a class of hormones that control the development and maintenance of male characteristics. The most abundant androgens in men are testosterone and dihydrotestosterone .

Androgens are required for normal growth and function of the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system that helps make . Androgens are also necessary for prostate cancers to grow. Androgens promote the growth of both normal and cancerous prostate cells by binding to and activating the androgen receptor, a protein that is expressed in prostate cells . Once activated, the androgen receptor stimulates the expression of specific genes that cause prostate cells to grow .

Almost all testosterone is produced in the testicles a small amount is produced by the adrenal glands. Although prostate cells do not normally make testosterone, some prostate cancer cells acquire the ability to do so .

Dealing With Common Side Effects

Your treatment team can tell you about the side effects that are most common with your specific treatment and may be able to give you medicines to prevent or relieve side effects or suggest other ways to manage side effects. For general advice, see the see the symptom management section.

Almost all men receiving hormone therapy experience hot flashes. Hot flashes may get better or even go away over time, but if hot flashes are a problem for you, ask your doctor about medications or alternative-medicine approaches to help alleviate them.

Hormone therapy lowers the level of both testosterone and estrogen, which maintains bone strength. Men who receive hormone therapy for prolonged periods may develop bone thinning, which can lead to osteoporosis and broken bones. Your doctor may follow the density of your bones using a DEXA scan during hormone therapy and, if appropriate, prescribe medications to prevent complications from osteoporosis. In addition, diet and exercise can help keep your bones strong.

Hormone therapy can decrease muscle mass and increase the percentage of body fat, increasing body weight overall. It can also increase your risk for heart attack, stroke, diabetes and high cholesterol. Talk with your doctor about how to modify your diet and what exercise is appropriate to prevent these complications or reduce your risk. Seattle Cancer Care Alliance also has nutrition services to help you optimize your nutritional health during and after treatment.

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Types Of Hormone Therapy For Prostate Cancer

There are many kinds of hormone therapy. Sometimes two or more types are used together. These are the most common ones:

Androgen deprivation therapy keeps your testicles from making androgens. Its often the first kind of hormone therapy you get for prostate cancer. Doctors can do it any of these ways:

  • Orchiectomy is surgery to remove your testicles. Its also called surgical castration.
  • LHRH agonists are drugs that stop your testicles from making androgens. You get them in shots or as implants put under your skin.
  • LHRH antagonists are another group of drugs that keep your testicles from making androgens. They can be taken as pills or given as shots.

Using drugs to stop your testicles from making androgens is called medical castration. Both methods work equally well, but surgical castration is permanent.

Androgen receptor blockers, or anti-androgen drugs, keep androgens from working. They block the proteins on cells where these hormones attach. So even though there are androgens in your body, the cancer cells cant use them as fuel to grow. You take these drugs as pills. Theyre usually added to ADT if it stops working.

Androgen synthesis inhibitors are drugs that keep all parts of your body from making androgens. This includes your adrenal glands and even prostate cancer cells, both of which can make small amounts of androgens. You take these drugs as pills.

Types Of Hormone Therapy

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The table at the right provides an overview of three commonly used types of hormone therapy. These and others are discussed below. While hormone therapy is commonly used, side effects of the treatment are reported as well. They range from erectile dysfunction, hot flashes, weight gain and loss of bone density.

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Drugs That Lower Androgen Levels

The most common treatment is to take drugs that lower the amount of androgens made by the testicles. They are called luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone analogs and anti-androgens . These drugs lower androgen levels just as well as surgery does. This type of treatment is sometimes called “chemical castration.”

Men who receive androgen deprivation therapy should have follow-up exams with the doctor prescribing the drugs:

  • Within 3 to 6 months after starting therapy
  • At least once a year, to monitor blood pressure and perform blood sugar and cholesterol tests
  • To get PSA blood tests to monitor how well the therapy is working

LH-RH analogs are given as a shot anywhere from once a month to every 6 months. These drugs include:

LH-RH antagonists are another class of treatments, including degarelix and relugolix . They reduce androgen levels more quickly and have fewer side effects. LH-RH antagonists are used in men with advanced cancer.

Some doctors recommend stopping and restarting treatment . This approach appears to help reduce hormone therapy side effects. However, it is not clear if intermittent therapy works as well as continuous therapy. Some studies indicate that continuous therapy is more effective or that intermittent therapy should only be used for select types of prostate cancer.

What Is Hormonal Therapy For Prostate Cancer

Hormonal therapy for prostate cancer is a treatment to lower the levels of the hormone testosterone in the body. Prostate cancer needs testosterone to grow. Testosterone is mainly made by the testicles. Hormonal therapies reduce the amount of testosterone in the body, or stop it reaching the prostate cancer cells.

Testosterone is important for:

  • muscle development and bone strength.

Hormonal therapies are drugs that can be given as injections or as tablets.

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High Intensity Focused Ultrasound

High intensity focused ultrasound was first used in the 1940s and 1950s in efforts to destroy tumors in the central nervous system. Since then, HIFU has been shown to be effective at destroying malignant tissue in the brain, prostate, spleen, liver, kidney, breast, and bone.

HIFU for prostate cancer utilizes ultrasound to ablate/destroy the tissue of the prostate. During the HIFU procedure, sound waves are used to heat the prostate tissue, thus destroying the cancerous cells. In essence, ultrasonic waves are focused on specific areas of the prostate to eliminate the prostate cancer, with minimal risks of affecting other tissue or organs. Temperatures at the focal point of the sound waves can exceed 100 °C . However, many studies of HIFU were performed by manufacturers of HIFU devices, or members of manufacturers’ advisory panels.

Contraindications to HIFU for prostate cancer include a prostate volume larger than 40 grams, which can prevent targeted HIFU waves from reaching the anterior and anterobasal regions of the prostate, anatomic or pathologic conditions that may interfere with the introduction or displacement of the HIFU probe into the rectum, and high-volume calcification within the prostate, which can lead to HIFU scattering and transmission impairment.

How Often And For How Long Will I Need Hormone Therapy

Hormone Therapy for Prostate Cancer

How often you have hormone therapy will depend on the type of drug you are receiving and the type of cancer treated. Some medications need to be administered monthly, while others dont have to be administered quite as frequently.

In regards to how long hormone therapy will last, this will vary based upon the type of cancer you have and how well you are responding to treatment. For some people, it could continue for a few months. However, it is normal to need to continue with hormone therapy for several years. A common example is women undergoing hormone therapy for breast cancer it is normal to continue with treatment for five to seven years.

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What Is Hormone Therapy

Hormones occur naturally in your body. They control the growth and activity of normal cells. Testosterone is a male hormone mainly made by the testicles.

Prostate cancer usually depends on testosterone to grow. Hormone therapy blocks or lowers the amount of testosterone in the body.

Hormone therapy on its own doesn’t cure prostate cancer. But it can lower the risk of an early prostate cancer coming back when you have it with other treatments. Or it can shrink an advanced prostate cancer or slow its growth.

What Are The Advantages Of Orchiectomy

First, it is a single, simple, surgical procedure with a very low risk of problems and 100 percent efficacy.

Second, it can be carried out in ways which are not physically evident. In other words, it is possible to carry out what is known as a subcapsular orchiectomy, in which the cores of the two testes are removed while the capsules remain in the scrotum. This means that the man still appears to be an intact male.

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